It’s a new year, and that often means New Year’s resolutions. Drop a bad habit? Exercise more? Lose weight? Go green? We can’t help you with the first few but have plenty of ideas on the latter.
If you’re wanting to reduce your energy use and environmental impact, here are ten suggestions to get you started:
The greater amount of hot water you use, the higher your energy bills will be. What can you do to conserve? Let’s star in the laundry room: You can save money on heating water by washing clothes in cold water. In the bathroom, simply taking shorter showers can help immensely.
Further, installing water efficient faucets, shower heads and toilets can make a significant difference in your water consumption. How do you know which products qualify? Look for the WaterSense label. According to Kiplinger’s:
“For example, WaterSense-labeled toilet can save a family of four more than $90 annually on their water bill and $2,000 over the toilet’s life time, according to the EPA. Considering you can get a toilet with a WaterSense Label for as little as $98, it will pay for itself in about a year.”
Watch the Thermostat
Similar to the hot water, small changes can make a big difference when it comes to heating and cooling your home. Even setting your thermostat one degree cooler in the winter and one degree warmer in the summer not only saves energy but saves you money. Just one degree can save you three percent or more on your electricity bill.
Further, when you’re not going to be at home, turn your thermostat up a few degrees in warm months and down a few degrees in cold months. Depending on your climate, that small change can save as much as $10 off a monthly bill. You may want to invest in a programmable thermostat which will make the adjustments for you; it’s an investment that will easily pay for itself over time.
Flip the switch.
Can’t you just hear the frustrated moans of your parents (or maybe yourself) saying,”Are we trying to use ALL the electricity ourselves?” after finding the lights on in an empty room? This one’s easy: Remember to turn off lights when you leave the room. This not only goes for the lights, but electricity-sucking appliances, computers and televisions. Turn off or unplug them when they’re not in use.
Buy a power strip. Did you know your electronics draw power even when they’re not in use? The U.S. Department of Energy says they can add up to 10% to your electrical bill. Known as ‘energy vampires’, they suck away energy and cash suck away cash, costing Americans just shy of a staggering $10 billion a year. According to the EPA, these ‘energy vampires’ account for almost 11% of all U.S. energy use. But it’s a pain to unplug all those electronics! Nobody wants to run around pulling plugs every day. The solution: an inexpensive power strip. Utilizing a power strip allows several things to be plugged into it and turned off with the flip of one switch. You can even purchase ‘smart’ power strips which will automatically shut off your computer’s printers and scanners or Audio-Visual components (gaming consoles, speakers and receivers) when not in use.
Use Energy-Efficient Appliances
If new appliances are on your list of 2019 purchases, consider opting for energy efficient models bearing the Energy Star label, particularly when shopping for washers or refrigerators. Generally, Energy Star Appliances are a bit more expensive, but they’ll save you money in the long run by using less energy and water. Many utility companies offer rebates for the purchase of Energy Star Appliances. Check with your provider.
Use CFL bulbs
This idea is catching on, slowly but surely. Yes, these bulbs are initially more expensive. But they last about 10 times as long as a traditional light bulb and use a fraction of the energy. In the long run, they’re a win for the green movement — and your pocketbook.
Warm up Your Windows
Don’t let costly heat disappear through the windows at night or when you aren’t home. Be sure to close the curtains or, even better, use thermal curtain which are designed to help hold in heat. (Think of it as long-johns for your windows!) Insulating curtains help keep heat in, instead of escaping and causing your heating system from working harder to maintain a cozy temperature.
Use Reusable Water Bottles
Drinking water is terrific for your body and overall health, but bottled water isn’t so great for Mother Nature’s health when those bottles hit the landfill. Plus, it’s expensive. Consider substituting reusable, refillable bottles instead — you’ll stay hydrated without depleting your pocketbook or the environment.
Plant a Garden
Even if you don’t have a particularly green thumb, why not try growing some of your own produce in 2019? Starting out small is great, and herbs are hardy and easy to grow. Other easy plants for beginners are beans, lettuce, potatoes, green beans and tomatoes.
Why? Growing your own food saves the fuel used to transport your food. Plus, you’ll know the exact origin of your food, what (if any) chemicals were used in its growth and have the satisfaction of knowing you grew it yourself.
Consider Energy Efficient Building materials
If a building project is on your 2019 calendar, be sure to consider using green materials — reducing the energy used to build and operate a structure all factor into its environmental impact. Materials such as Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), lumber from renewable resources, geothermal heat, passive lighting or even solar panels.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Even just a small effort on each of our parts can help make a greener 2019.